Matt Camilli, ranked one of the top five senior long snappers in the country by Pro Football Weekly. (Stephanie Solis/Borderzine.com)

Matt Camilli – The long snap to a pro-football career

EL PASO – The six-foot-four Miner who stood out from the sideline with his golden locks, Matt Camilli is waiting to hear from the NFL in the coming days. Long snapper Camilli had a phenomenal career playing for University of Texas at El Paso.  Starting off as a walk-on freshmen and ending his career with the Miners with a scholarship. Camilli was selected 2011 All Conference USA first Team his senior year, as well as special teams captain his senior year and ranked one of the top five senior long snappers in the country by Pro Football Weekly. He is now hoping to take his career to the next level with an NFL team. “There has only been one long snapper drafted in nine years.

Juarez couple narrates torture suffered under officers from the Mexican Federal Police. (Francisco Alarcón/Borderzine.com)

Juarez couple declares they were kidnapped and tortured by Mexican Federal Police

Translated by Roberto Perezdíaz
Lea esta historia en español

EL PASO – A Juarez woman together with her husband affirmed in an immigration and political asylum forum that she was tortured and threatened by death by Mexican Federal Police. “Although we are safe and are still alive, we are nobody here,” she said before a hundred or so people while her face was covered by a black cloth to protect her identity. She spoke here Friday, April 27 at the Multi-Use Center of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral hosted by Annunciation House, an organization that offers refuge for immigrants and political exiles. “We sacrificed a lot to achieve our careers in Ciudad Juárez, and they (a group of federal policemen deployed to our sister city) destroyed them in minutes,” she said fighting her tears. The couple, whose names and faces remained anonymous for security reasons, fled Juarez City and took refuge in El Paso when some alleged agents from the above agency “picked them up” on two occasions.

Female UTEP athletic trainer standing between towering football players.

Women working in all-male sports learn to adapt and flourish

EL PASO – I stand on the sidelines of an XXL world filled with, size-17 shoes, and giants battling for a pigskin ball in a field of blood, sweat, ice and medical tape, one of a few women allowed in the center of the turmoil. There are very few women involved in the male maelstrom, whether it is college football or in the NFL. Having a passion for the game and also being involved in the media aspect, I have seen that women are undervalued in the world of men’s sports. “Have you ever noticed those female sideline reporters the networks employed for NFL games? And have you ever noticed they’re all a bunch of ignorant bimbos that wouldn’t know a football field from a cornfield without a man pointing them in the right direction ” said comedian Norm McDonald while imitating Andy Rooney.

Men are not an strange presence in Zumba classes any longer. (Victoria Perez/Borderzine.com)

Men also can Zumba their way to fitness

EL PASO – Entering a room packed mostly with women can make some men feel threatened and realizing that they have to join in and exercise to the rhythm of sexy music can be even more intimidating. “I was very very scared the first time because there were like 40 girls and I was the only man there,” said Marco Lopez. That’s how Lopez, 23, described his first Zumba class at the University of Texas at El Paso. Men are usually less attracted to aerobics classes for exercise and a class where all you do to work out is dance can become a big challenge for most men. Zumba has become the newest trend in exercising.

UTEP football players ready for the Houston game. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre/Courtesy of UTEP Athletics)

Few UTEP athletes come from El Paso, but not for lack of recruiting effort

EL PASO – Less than 10 per cent of the athletes at the University of Texas at El Paso – a division one university that offers most of the collegiate sports – are from El Paso, yet the coaching staff recruits here first. There are 32 high schools in El Paso with plenty of good athletes graduating every year, yet only 10 of UTEP’s football team of 110 players are from El Paso. “We usually take the kids from El Paso and give them a chance to sign with us,” said Coach Robert Rodriguez, the UTEP football recruiting coach for El Paso. That means El Paso players of division one caliber are the first to get an opportunity to sign with the Miners. When looking at some of the players that UTEP has tried to get in the past, it appears that “UTEP loses players to bigger BCS [Bowl Championship Series] schools,” said UTEP football coach Jeff Banks.

"Our job is to bring them (our customers) a piece of Juárez", said Omar Apodaca co-owner of La Choza. (Alexander Gandara/Borderzine.com)

Mexican businesses thrive in El Paso with support from their own network

EL PASO – New businesses and professionals resettling here from México have assimilated almost seamlessly into the local culture and economy in the last two years with the help and oversight of a close-knit network they formed to orient and advise them. Known as La Red, the organization with 300-plus members aims to assist its new immigrant middle-class membership with business and legal advice.  La Red includes business entrepreneurs, laywers, architects and other professionals. They help empresarios from Juárez transfer their businesses to El Paso using L1A visas.  In 2010 L1A visas were issued to 5,000  Mexican business professionals, according to the U.S. state department statistics. The L1A visa is a quicker way for professionals to establish residency for up to seven years and it allows them to bring children under the age of 21.  La Red retains lawyers who can help with the proper documentation. Once issued the visa, they must prove that the business is succesful.  The visa can be renewed every two years.

Woman boxer pounds away the obstacles in a male-dominated sport

EL PASO — Her swollen eyes gaze at her bloody opponent sitting in the opposite corner of the ring as her coach shouts out demands for the last round of the bout. Heavy hands hang on the ropes as she inhales and exhales trying to catch her breath while the mostly male crowd howls. Just as the bell sounds, she forces her body to her feet and moves guardedly to the center of the ring. She taps gloves with her opponent and the round begins. Jasmine Rodriguez, 20, a junior at the University of Texas at El Paso, entered the ring at the Sports and Health Expo held here in April to fight in one of the day’s only two women’s boxing matches.

Juarez coach now trains long-distance runners at UTEP

EL PASO – The violence that overwhelms daily life in Ciudad Juarez didn’t stop Pedro Lopez from helping others pursue the dream of becoming world-class runners. But now he dreams of the American dream. “The violence in Juarez is crazy. It became a crazy city. I remember when I was young and I could go out at whatever time and come back home late and not have any problem.

An education lifted la chicanita from the lettuce fields into academia

EL PASO – Memories flowed with the tears as the anthropology professor recalled the hardscrabble days when as a child she stooped to pick lettuce in the fields of New Mexico from early morning until dusk. “I picked everything I can possibly think of except for watermelon and grapes,” says Dr. Gina Núñez-Mchiri, 38, who teaches at the University of Texas at El Paso. She was only eight when she started working alongside her mom and dad and her four siblings. It was exhausting work, hard on her little body, dirty and sweaty. “Growing up with migrant farm working parents was very difficult, very challenging,” Núñez-Mchiri says.

Sun City thaws for the Super Bowl

El Pasoans celebrate the Super Bowl

EL PASO, Texas — The frigid cold from the worst winter blizzard to hit the Sun City in a decade didn’t stop Super Bowl fans here from overheating. Record low temperatures in El Paso that caused citywide blackouts and water restrictions didn’t stop fans from celebrating one last Sunday of football. While over 100,000 spectators watched the Green Bay Packers drub the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s 45th Super Bowl game February 6 at Dallas Stadium in Arlington, Texas, millions celebrated at home and bars across the country. El Paso predominantly a Dallas Cowboys fan-base, voiced a share of cheers for both teams.

Local sporting goods stores took advantage of the popularity of the teams, Sports Xplosion manager Oscar Moreno noticed an increase in sales this year compared to last year’s Super Bowl, which featured the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints, “It’s been real busy. We’re up about 30 percent compared to last year at this time,” Moreno said in the days leading up to the game.